Showing posts with label timbaland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label timbaland. Show all posts

Monday, June 10, 2019

the top ten worst hit songs of 2010 (VIDEO)

Well, this was a long time coming, but I'm happy this came out as loose and funny as it is. 

Next up... well, I put up a vote on Twitter and folks apparently wanted me to cover something else instead of AURORA and Silversun Pickups... so I've got a surprise in store. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

the top ten worst hit songs of 2010

...what, you thought these retrospective lists would only cover the best of the year? 

Yeah, eventually we were going to have to get here, and we might as well start with the first year in the 2010s left uncovered. But first, a quick recap of the chart trends of 2010, a year knee-deep in the club boom, somewhat evenly between the songs that believed the party would never end and those who were desperately pretending it wasn't happening at all. And what was telling was how both sides of that binary wound up on the best and worst lists, which you'd think would balance everything out. And yet that's where you'd be wrong, because the bad songs seemed to grossly outweigh the good in 2010 in hitting the lucrative balance between offensive, obnoxious, or just plain asinine. More to the point, it was also a year where flimsy production that's aged rather badly was everywhere on the Hot 100, and sometimes a song sounding like ass is all you need here.

Now granted, 2010 is one of those years where the factor of, 'Oh, this sucked, but nobody cares anymore so why revisit it', and that tends to be a hidden truth about the Hot 100 - bad trends age badly, but the songs are so disposable that nobody really cares all that much, which tends to paint the years as better than they might be. And while this is true for some forgotten crap, there'll also be hits on this list that somehow remain massive to this day, either because the artists are still celebrities - and probably shouldn't be - or the radio has entrenched them as staples because nobody with brain cells came in the day they decided on syndication. And again, the songs had to debut on the Hot 100 in 2010 - it's widely considered a pretty rough year for the charts, all the more tainted by the fact I personally spent way too much time in the club in 2010, so let's go back to the gungy afterparty rightly forgotten, and the morning hangover that somehow has not gone away, starting with...

Friday, September 27, 2013

video review: 'the 20/20 experience 2 of 2' by justin timberlake

Yes, I know it's late, but I do have a social life to keep up, and I went out before I could do any proper promotion. It happens.

So, coming up will either be Lorde or Alan Jackson. Probably the latter, because nobody else touches country, but you never know. Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

album review: 'the 20/20 experience 2 of 2' by justin timberlake

Okay, let's try this again.

For those of you who don't know, I've already said my lengthy piece on Justin Timberlake earlier this year, and as much as I was hoping that my views would evolve or change, I'm still not the biggest fan of that album, and the majority of my issues with Justin Timberlake have unfortunately persisted six months later. For a brief recap, I did like some of the elements of The 20/20 Experience - the production, most of the instrumentation, and the fact that Justin seemed to be actually trying - but to me the album fell short because of serious bloat and the fact that the lyrics simply weren't up to the task of sustaining longer songs. These problems seemed to be linked to a few issues that have always stopped me from really liking Justin Timberlake, for as much class and swagger and professionalism he brings to pop music, I've never liked his towering ego or the fact that he never seemed to care as much about his art as other artists. Some acts seem like they make pop music because they want to enhance the medium or express deeply held emotions that they can't articulate any other way - Justin Timberlake, on the other hand, seems to make pop music just because he can, almost on a whim, and he's good enough to get away with such nonchalance when it comes to his career because he's seriously talented and supported by some of the best acts in the industry (particularly Timbaland, who is filling the role of Quincy Jones to Justin's Michael Jackson).

But that wasn't to deride the elements of The 20/20 Experience that worked - and really, it was an album that worked better in pieces than as a whole. I was happy to see 'Mirrors', the best song on the album and a favourite of mine, rise to chart success, but at the same time, it was also a song that was criticized for being a prime example of Justin Timberlake's hubris. And while that was certainly true, the bigger example of that arrogance for me was his sudden announcement in May that he was going to be releasing another album later this year, the follow-up to his March release called The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 (man, that's an awkward title - that 'of 2' doesn't fit well there), reportedly composed of extra material from the original recording sessions.

Now to me, this set off all kinds of warning bells. For one, it smacked of a cash-in - given how well The 20/20 Experience sold, it wasn't entirely surprising that Justin was looking to terminate the label obligations he clearly loathed by dropping a second record that year. But from an artistic angle, it also was a massive warning sign for me, because not only did it mean that Justin took the same recording methodology into the studio with him with the bloated songs and lack of restraint, but it also looked like these were the leftover tracks that weren't strong enough to make it to the first album (and judging by the disappointing chart performance of 'Take Back The Night', the first single, the public might agree). But even if they weren't and were grouped for the second album during the initial recording process... Jesus, JT, did you not learn the lesson that Billie Joe Armstrong and Green Day suffered through last year, releasing three albums of material in the space of months when they all could have been trimmed of the chaff and compressed down to a single, much more solid release? Furthermore, the element of expectation is completely gone here, and any element of wonder garnered from the return from hiatus is absent. To me, this album was a bad idea from the start, and I went in with low, low expectations about how well it would materialize.

So, how did The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 turn out?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

video review: 'the 20/20 experience' by justin timberlake

For those of you who have been following my blog, you've probably all seen this before - hell, it's the most viewed review here (something that still kind of baffles me) - and you're probably wondering why I bothered to record it. Well, since I discovered that The 20/20 Experience Part 2 is on the way at the end of this month, I figured that I should at least get my thoughts on YouTube to provide the slightest hint of context before the second review. 

Then again, I probably could have done better than an eighteen minute video. Eh, it happens.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

album review: 'the 20/20 experience' by justin timberlake

I think that Justin Timberlake and I got off on the wrong foot.

And really, it's not entirely his fault either. Like nearly every other kid who grew up in the late 90s, I got caught up the boy band wars, and I firmly landed in the Backstreet Boys camp (still am in the Backstreet Boys camp, by the way, mostly because I think the majority of their material has more lasting appeal than N'Sync). Thankfully I wasn't one of the insane fans that would automatically deride all of a band's work because of my 'allegiance' to their counterpart, but, well, Justin Timberlake was a member of N'Sync and I have never thought N'Sync were as good as the Backstreet Boys. Yes, 'Tearing Up My Heart', 'Bye Bye Bye', 'Gone', 'It's Gonna Be Me', and '(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You' are all great songs, but N'Sync gravitated towards slick, glassy R&B that I never felt they could back up effectively, mostly because they never had a member of the band with an authoritative baritenor like Kevin or A.J..

But really, it wasn't just that Justin Timberlake was a member of N'Sync - he was N'Sync, and I'm not surprised at all that he was really the only boy band member to strike out on his own and find mainstream solo success. Success that, I will admit, I dismissed for a long time for a number of reasons that I definitely couldn't articulate at the time. I definitely thought throughout the mid-2000s that Timbaland, his producer partner, was more engaging and entertaining that Justin Timberlake ever was. Timbaland had a unique style, a gift for superb hip-hop beats, and a great bass that gave his songs a surprising degree of authority. Timbaland did for the mid-to-late-2000s what the Neptunes did for the early 2000s: monopolized pop radio and made a shit-load of awesome music. 

But now it's 2013 - and after a long hiatus, Justin Timberlake has come back to 'reclaim his title' as the best male pop star in the modern industry. Let me restate something I've said a number of times before: after Michael Jackson faded away in the 90s, there has been something of a contest to see who will take his place, and for the most part of the 2000s, it has been between Usher and Justin Timberlake. Sure, Chris Brown has thrown his hat into the ring, but thankfully the majority of sane people have dismissed the little pissant's boast, which leaves this a two man race. 

But if I'm going to be completely honest, I think that Justin Timberlake has always been a bit ahead of Usher in this contest. Usher's best music has always been about, well, sex - Timberlake sings about sex and love and all the rest of that stuff, but his lyrical influences and musical stylinEgs are just a bit more eclectic (mostly thanks to Timbaland, who has been playing the Quincy Jones to Timberlake's Michael since 2006). And yeah, going back through Justified and FutureSex/LoveSounds today, I can finally admit that Justin Timberlake is a good pop star. In fact, he's a great pop star, with a number of slick, polished, incredibly solid pop songs. And with shockingly solid performances in movies (I'd argue that he was one of the best things about The Social Network, outside of the script and direction) and in stand-up comedy (particularly on SNL - and considering Timberlake's pedigree, it's a little amazing that he managed not to go the way of John Mayer when it comes to braving the comedy gauntlet), I can state he's a genuine triple threat.

So why the hell can't I like the guy's music?

Because I want to like Justin Timberlake, and there are a few songs where he does deliver, but why the hell does his music feel so fleeting and forgettable to me in comparison to Usher's? The only two Justin Timberlake songs I've ever really liked off his last albums were 'Sexyback' and 'Give It To Me', the latter simply because it's one of the most scathing diss tracks to have ever become popular. That song, with verses from Nelly Furtado (dissing critics who dislike the fact she stopped singing insufferable and pretentious adult alternative and starting making much better pop music) and Timbaland (who thrashes former collaborator Scott Storch), works both because it's a great song, but also because of sheer audacity. Mostly because on that track, Justin Timberlake disses Prince.

Yeah, you read that right. The story goes that shortly after the release of 'Sexyback', Prince saw Timberlake at an Entertainment Tonight party and shouted across the room that 'sexy never left', something that Timberlake took umbrage with and recorded a pretty vicious diss in response. That took balls, particularly considering that Justin Timberlake - and indeed the majority of modern pop/R&B singers - owe a debt to Prince's experimentation and genius that would be impossible to pay off, and yet Timberlake chose to diss him. As I said before, the song was solid before Timberlake's verse, but the sheer audacity elevates it to another level.

But upon reflection, I think that's always been part of my problem with Justin Timberlake: the man is justifiably confident in his delivery and songwriting, and he has a ton of polish and sleek style - but despite all of this, in his solo work it never seemed like he was trying. And sure, you could argue that he's has never really needed to try, but to me, it leeches some of the likability out of the performer. When you consider the 'risks' he's taken as an artist, nothing that he has done has been all that revolutionary to the genre in the way Michael Jackson or Prince were in the 80s. Let's compare him to Usher, for example, because while there have been tracks Usher has phoned it in, for the most part his material is emotionally driven and passionate. And this is because Usher throws himself into tracks with force and passion, and even on his 'slow-burn' tracks like 'Climax' (which is Usher's best song), you can tell he's working his ass off to really sell the emotions in the song in a way that Justin Timberlake really never has. 

But now he's come back with a new album after a six year hiatus - and really, you have to consider what he's facing, because the pop world has evolved a lot since Timberlake dropped FutureSex/LoveSounds back in 2006. The club boom has come and (nearly) gone, indie rock has flooded the charts, and a new generation of boy bands has arrived. Along the axes of pop music (which, just to remind you all, are the axes of intelligence and maturity), the advent of mainstream indie rock has pushed half of the charts towards smarter, more mature music (mostly - there are exceptions), while the rest has shot down towards dumb immaturity in the vein of the success of One Direction and the motherfucking 'Harlem Shake'. So the task ahead of Justin is immense - not only does he have to reassert himself as a presence in the pop landscape, he has to show that he can be influential on the pop scene. If he really wants to claim the throne of the king of pop, he needs The 20/20 Experience to take off in a big way.

And having now listened to the album... I don't know if that's going to happen, because Justin Timberlake didn't just choose The 20/20 Experience as his comeback album, he also chose it as an artistic statement and chose to load it with seven minute songs. Because, as he said, 'if Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin can do it, why can't we'? And putting aside the borderline heresy in that statement, The 20/20 Experience is a decidedly odd and frustrating album. It's looking to do a lot of things: a comeback for Justin Timberlake, a pop smash hit, and a critically acclaimed 'art-pop' album. Most albums would have a hard time being one of those things, and it would require a damn miracle to get all of those things to come together.

The shocking thing is how damn close The 20/20 Experience gets to that point, and its failure is all the more glaring in comparison to everything it gets right.